I have been playing a Divine by Buffet Crampon as my daily Bb Clarinet since July of this year. I was introduced to it by a friend from the Liverpool Philharmonic, who let me give it a go – I immediately fell in love with its dark tone and incredible responsiveness. Ever since then I had been dreaming of getting my own Divine, which finally happened.
My first performance with this magnificent horn was with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, playing Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. From there, I have not looked back, and could not revert back to any other instrument.
There are three key features of the Divine that really justify its rather terrifying cost – it’s tone, it’s intonation and it’s responsiveness.
While I know I keep bringing it up, the responsiveness of an instrument to articulation and phrasing is incredibly important. You don’t want an overly-sensitive instrument, such that every little action that you make produces a noticeable sound change, however, you also need it to be just responsive enough that it reacts to your actions and simply sounds great.
Buffet have got this just right. It is very easy to create distinguished articulation differences between staccato, semi-staccato, regular tonguing, legato tonguing and tenuto, and all of this without much effort at all.
Nobody likes an out of tune Clarinet, particularly when you’re playing in the extreme altissimo reaches! Usually you have to use loads of wacky fingerings to correct false-pitching, however, you really don’t need to use many at all on this horn. Sure, from top F, you need to start using them, and on the throat notes you will too, but you do with all Clarinets really, and you will notice that you won’t need to use quite as many.
Tuning the instrument at the beginning also seems to be much easier, as the instrument’s intonation is significantly more stable and consistent than my previous Clarinet’s.
What can really be said? This instrument’s tone is exquisite – Buffet certainly named it right; it definitely does sound divine!
It’s low Chalumeau register sounds dark and ominous, while it’s lower and upper altissimo can be both piercing or light, depending on the context.
It is an incredibly versatile instrument that will do exactly what you ask of it.
Negatives / Drawbacks
There certainly aren’t many of them, however the most significant negative of this instrument is Buffet’s supposedly “superior” artificial cork on the tenons, which, in my opinion, is most certainly not superior at all!
Not only is it a bit of a pain to lubricate sufficiently (noting that it requires fairly expensive lubricant), but I have known a few cases of the material falling off.
I have replaced this ‘artificial cork’ with real cork, and it just works so much better. And if it does somehow expand and get a tad tight, then you don’t need any specialist equipment to shave a bit off – just some sandpaper!
All in all, I love my Divine – it is a beautiful, incredibly high-quality instrument, and I doubt I will ever need to invest in a new one. If you are looking for the best Clarinet on the market, I would challenge you to find one that plays better than this.